by Mark Anthony Brennan
Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Valery Gore has always been enjoyable and has proven her ability to craft a solidly listenable song. Now however, after spending four years bringing her third album to fruition, Gore takes a huge step forward with a work that displays both greater lyrical maturity and musical complexity. She, in fact, stands poised to earn her place in the pantheon of critically acclaimed contemporary female singer-songwriters. Fortunately for us, along the way she hasn’t forgotten that her primary job is to entertain.
For some artists the shift to more serious material entails becoming more somber and inward-looking. Such is not the case with Gore. Although the music on ‘Idols in the Dark Heart’ may be more challenging to the listener and her lyrics more mysterious, she treats the whole exercise as an outward celebration of the inner spirit: “Layers uncurl where there were only closed flowers/I get the courage, my eversion shows you other colours”. She may broach topics as heady as grief, loss, sorrow and uncertainty but she chooses a vibrant palette of electropop to do so. Songs such as “Amsterdam”, “With The Future” and “Chinook” sparkle with synths and lively beats but at the same time satisfy the discerning listener with their complex arrangements. She can be compared to St. Vincent in her ability to delight us with her music without insulting our intelligence.
When it comes to instrumentation and arrangement, the jazzy “July” and the Asian-sounding “Hummingbird in Reverse” probably represent the high-water marks with their complicated rhythms and beats. However, the album’s true standout track is “Lungs” whose extended opening holds you breathless as Gore sings, “I’ve known your lungs/But not enough to know those lungs are now full of blood.” At the midpoint the song explodes with twinkling leopards and a sprightly rhythm, but all the while Gore continues with her narrative, commenting that, “The City’s torn in two/And one half drops with the weight of you”. It is a mournful tale, related with the gravitas of a poet, and yet the track has such wonderful structure that it is a joy to the ears.
As good as Gore has been in the past, ‘Idols in the Dark Heart’ represents a momentous career changer as it vaults her into that rarefied field occupied by the likes of Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson and Bjork. Who knows, at this rate Gore may one day surpass even them.